As the weather turns colder and many people are thinking about peppermint mochas and hot apple cider, Mike Obert is thinking about lemonade. In fact, Obert, a 2020 graduate of the University of Indianapolis Doctor of Health Science program, thinks about lemonade year-round. Obert and his family are the brains and the muscle behind Payton’s Lemonade Stand, a non-profit that has raised more than $100,000 for children facing personal, medical, and financial hardships.
Obert said it all started with a simple desire. His then six-year-old daughter Payton wanted to host a lemonade stand. Obert and his wife, Jess, encouraged Payton to take the proceeds of her lemonade stand and pay them forward to a charity. Payton chose Cincinnati Children’s Hospital because when she was younger, she had a procedure done at the hospital and received a teddy bear that she still sleeps with today.
The Oberts put the word out to family and friends that Payton’s lemonade stand would benefit Cincinnati Children’s and the first lemonade stand raised more than $768, which Payton used to purchase toys for the patients at the hospital. The following year, Payton’s Lemonade Stand raised $7,000. Other kids got involved and hosted their own lemonade stands for the Payton’s Lemonade Stand effort, and in 2020, the grassroots fundraiser raised and donated $35,000. That’s when Obert and his wife decided to make Payton’s Lemonade Stand an official non-profit.
In 2021, there were 30 Payton’s Lemonade Stands in the greater Cincinnati region. The Oberts have already been contacted by children in cities as far away as Cleveland and Louisville who want to participate next year.
“It’s all about kids serving kids,” said Obert, “and about empowering the next generation of philanthropists.” Obert’s younger daughter Presley is also involved in the effort.
The proceeds from Payton’s Lemonade Stands are used to support kids facing personal, medical, and financial hardships at Cincinnati Children’s and through other non-profits, such as A Kid Again, Shriners Hospitals for Children, and UpSpring.
It all makes for a busy life for Obert, who is a faculty member at Mount Saint Joseph University, and who helped grown the lemonade empire while he was finishing his own doctoral degree at UIndy.
“At one point, I had to email my doctoral committee at UIndy to say, ‘I’m sorry I’m delayed – I’m hosting a lemonade stand,’” he said with a laugh.
Obert did complete his Doctor of Health Science degree and his doctoral project, “Clinical Reasoning, Critical Thinking Disposition, and Self-Reflection: Predictors of Academic Success and Clinical Readiness?” Now that his studies are finished, he has extra time to devote to the Payton’s Lemonade Stand.
He says that a lesson he’s learned from the lemonade business carries over into the classroom. “It’s important to treat each person as a whole and to remember that a little thing can change someone’s day for the better, whether they are a young child facing hardships or a stressed-out graduate student”